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Berries could help astronauts offset the ravages of outer space

Berries are the basis of a special high-vitamin food developed by China’s Harbin Institute of Technology to help protect astronauts from the extreme conditions of outer space.

Berries feature in a special high-vitamin food to help keep astronauts healthy during long stints in space.

The advent of space stations means longer periods beyond Earth and thus more exposure to extreme conditions – including the effects of space radiation and microgravity. But Chinese scientists says they have developed a vitamin supplement compressed food that will help keep space travellers well and that tastes good, too.

China’s Harbin Institute of Technology – which has unique programs in the field of astronautics – is seeking a patent for the food, which is prepared from freeze-dried blueberry, honeysuckle, strawberry, raspberry, kiwifruit and blackcurrant powder.

It says in its patent application that these fruits are rich in vitamins and a low-temperature compressing technology is used to ensure the vitamins are not destroyed during processing.

“Because blueberries, indigo honeysuckle, strawberries, raspberries, kiwifruits, blackcurrant and other berries are used as the raw materials for preparing the special compressed food, …(it) can supplement the vitamins and other nutrients and also can well prevent a series of physiological changes of the astronauts due to the change of radiation intensity and gravity in space under long-term flight in extreme conditions, and particularly the extreme-environment induced oxidative damage to the bodies of the astronauts,” it says in the application, published by the World Intellectual Property Organization.

Blueberries, raspberries and strawberries are also among fruits NASA lists as among its baseline space shuttle food.

The issue of astronaut nutrition was in the news this week with images of astronauts eating red romaine lettuce grown aboard the International Space Station as part of NASA’s VEG-01 experiment (nicknamed “VEGGIE”).

Image: Computer-generated artist’s rendering of the completed International Space Station (2006), by NASA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


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Ukraine berries market under spotlight at conference

Berries and grapes together account for half the total value of all fruit sold in Ukraine, according to statistics presented to delegates from Ukraine and European countries at the Berries of Ukraine 2015 6th International Conference, organised by APK-Inform: Vegetables & Fruits project.

Berries and grapes together account for half the total value of all fruit sold in Ukraine, according to statistics presented to delegates from Ukraine and European countries at the Berries of Ukraine 2015 6th International Conference, organised by APK-Inform: Vegetables & Fruits project.

The conference was held in May in Kiev and hosted 160 agrarians who heard the presentations of professionals concerning the challenges and benefits of the berries sector.

It is possible strawberry exports from Ukraine will be at record level this season, said Tatiana Getman, head of the project. Last year, the country exported 300 tons, and this year the amount may reach 1,000 tons.

Last season, cherries and sour cherries topped the exports. However, this year, with the embargo imposed on Ukrainian fruit, problems with exports may arise, Russia being the top buyer of Ukrainian products.

Growing demand for niche berries

At the same time, the demand for berries at the local market keeps growing, and the number of farmers willing to grow them increases faster than the interest in any other crop. Therefore it is essential to choose the right strategy from the very beginning, said Oleg Bosyi, international expert in the sector.

He recommended starting to grow traditional berries, such as strawberry and raspberry. As for experienced produces, they are interested in offering niche berries as well. Blueberry, bramble and honeysuckle are niche berries chosen by more and more consumers.


(Image by neurovelho via Wikimedia Commons)

The demand for cranberry and for gooseberry keeps growing too, the latter being one of the most prospective niche berry, believes Alexander Yarechshenko, science PhD from the Horticultural Institute. It is a pity gooseberry is wrongly forgotten by the farmers, he said. There are currently 600 ha of gooseberry in Ukraine, only 1/3 of them being cultivated commercially. At the same time, demand keeps growing, and gooseberry production has many advantages: the use of the plantation is 15-20 years, and harvesting may be done by machines.

Low Ukraine grape consumption

Meanwhile, Ukrainian table grape producers are less optimistic. Per capita grape consumption in Ukraine remains very low – 1.1 kg against the 12 kg recommended by European health organisations. The reasons are high prices, poor production conditions and lack of modern cold store facilities.

Optimal crop protection among other topics covered

The berries conference program also addressed export potential, the current situation of the frozen berries market, and discussion of new sales channels. The delegates attended master-classes by leading Ukrainian and foreign experts who explained how to choose optimal crop protection and optimal approaches to business barriers in Ukraine in general.


The 6th International Conference Berries of Ukraine-2015: Frozen Produce & Fresh Market

Gooseberries: Image by neurovelho (own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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Glasshouse blackberries deliver pleasing results for Driscoll’s

Berry company Driscoll’s says taking its successful variety Driscoll’s® Victoria™ to the glasshouse has produced blackberries with exceptional taste and outstanding fruit size.

Berry company Driscoll’s says taking its successful variety Driscoll’s® Victoria™ to the glasshouse has produced blackberries that have kicked off the Dutch season with exceptional taste and outstanding fruit size.

Driscoll’s agronomy consultant Fanny Pitsioudis said the variety is the result of a unique breeding programme focused on taste, look and shelf life.

“What we discovered is that this blackberry variety performs even better in the protected environment of a glasshouse, as the berries are bigger, sweeter and juicier than before,” she said.

Driscoll’s growers Jan and Alfons Diepstraten, of the growers association Best of Four, are reaping the benefits of the glass house success and gave a hat tip to Driscoll’s for its “high quality varieties and advanced production methods.”

“Last year we already experienced how huge and sweet these blackberries are, that is why we decided to expand our production from 2 hectare to 5 hectare,” they said, adding they will be picking blackberries until December

Driscoll's growers Jan & Alfons Diepstraten.JPGDriscoll’s growers Jan and Alfons Diepstraten of growers association Best of Four

source: Driscoll’s press release





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Preferential registration fees for Ukraine’s leading berry conference

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“Berries of Ukraine – 2015: Frozen Produce & Fresh Market”

  • Preferential registration fees for Ukraine’s leading berry conference in effect till Monday April 13
  • The conference will be on May 21-22 (a sessional part in Rus Hotel, Kiev, on the 1st day and a business-tour to Agrofirma Vesna-2011, one of the leading berry farms in Kiev Region, on the 2nd one).

This 6th International Conference will focus on the following questions:
– The Ukrainian berry production and price forecast for 2015
– Imports’ influence on the Ukrainian market and export potential of Ukrainian fresh and frozen berries
– Berry production technologies in Ukraine: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, gooseberries, honeysuckles, currants, blackberries, cherries, grapes
– Agrichemistry support for berry production
– Berry growing in different climatic zones in Ukraine (open ground and under cover)
– Production potential of everbearing berry varieties
– Investments in the berry business: most attractive positions
– The Ukrainian market for deep frozen berries: present situation and development prospects
– Modern handling, packaging and processing technologies for berries in Ukraine
– Key sales channels for fresh and frozen berries: supermarkets, wholesale markets, processing, export

The business-tour to Agrofirma Vesna-2011 will focus on:
– plantations under summer and everbearing strawberries (open-ground and under cover), black, red, white currants; summer and everbearing raspberries; blueberries;
– machinery used during berry growing;
– berry harvesting process;
– post-harvest cooling of berries;
– berry packaging, different packaging types.

Why to attend:
– Obtain exclusive market information about real market situation and outlook, which can’t be found in the official statistics
– Meet in person the largest growers of berries, cherries and table grapes from Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus and Russia
– Meet leading processors of berries from these countries
– Excellent promotional and advertising options for suppliers of inputs, equipment, plants, agrichemistry, technologies

Key conference audience: growers of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, currants, blueberries, table grapes, sweet and sour cherries as well as processors of those products account for more than a half of the delegates.

The event, organized by Fruit-Inform and sponsored by Syngenta, will be attended by more than 150 participants – from 8-10 countries – with more than a half of them to be represented by producers of fresh and frozen berries.

Find out how to join the sector leader at:


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Argentina leader in early fruit

BERRIES Bluberries argentina Inés Pelaez

2014 a recovery year for Argentinian blueberries

In 2014, favourable weather accompanied the Argentine blueberry season, totalling 16,600 tons, meaning roughly 30% growth compared to the 2013 campaign, which was affected by a localised tornado with hailstorms in Entre Ríos and early frosts which affected all the early harvests in this province and Tucumán, resulting in 12,755 tons of fresh blueberries for export.

Argentina is the leading supplier of early fruits in the Southern Hemisphere, with 80% of early fruit (3,900 tons), accounting for 25% of the country’s total output. In this sense, its forte is not the large volume, but its leadership in early harvest blueberries. The country’s early fruit production has grown 200% from 2011 to the present, due to significant investments made in varietal reconversion between 2006 and 2012, the first results of which we are seeing today. These plantations have not yet reached full maturity, so Argentina is expected to keep on growing in this window.

The main destinations for Argentine fruits are the USA with 62%, then Continental Europe with significant growth in Germany, and the UK with 33%. Although the market share in Asia has increased, it has yet to reach a significant volume, and producers are still waiting for signing of the protocol with China, a market that remains impenetrable to fresh Argentine blueberries. As Inés Pelaez, General Manager of the Argentinian Blueberry Committee, explains, “China has a total of 20,000 hectares planted for consumption during the season of the year when we are not producing, which means an ideal opportunity for Argentina to provide out-of-season supplies.”



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Berries in one in four UK shopping baskets over summer

More than one in four shopping baskets sold by mySupermarket in the UK had berries in them last May–August. The average of nearly 26% for those warmer months – up from about 18.5% over twelve months – shows the seasonal nature of berry consumption.

More than one in four shopping baskets sold by mySupermarket in the UK had berries in them last May–August.
The average of nearly 26% for those warmer months – up from about 18.5% over twelve months – shows the seasonal nature of berry consumption.
Sales of organic berries were consistent with this spike. From January–November last year, just 0.61% of all shopping baskets contained organic berries but this rose to an average of 0.81% for May–August, though the vast majority of berries sold were still conventional.
The berries included in the data were strawberries, assorted berries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries and all were sold pre-packed.
The data came from, which said it is derived from its about 50,000 monthly shoppers.

Berry sales up in UK

Retail sales of fresh berries have risen 11% in both value and volume in the UK, Kantar Worldpanel data shows.

Figures for the 52 weeks to December 7 show total sales of nearly £893.4 million, up from just over £803,4 million for the same period the previous year. A total of 150,781 tons of berries were sold, up from 135,674 tons.

Screenshot 2015-02-23 at 17.21.37.png

Read more berry news on pages 104-111 of edition 135 of Eurofresh Distribution magazine.

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Infographic Highlights Benefits of Berries

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Which berry can help reduce cholesterol and which one is rich in folic acid? What are the seasons for the different berries and what are their calorie counts?

The answers to these questions and many other interesting details about berries are in a new shareable infographic from Huelva Inteligente.

Based in Huelva, the origin of 95% of Spain’s berry exports, the digital marketing experts have provided an easy-to-digest summary of the kind of information shared recently at the Fresh&Life berry symposium in Madrid.



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Royal and Ideal Fruits Sign Blueberry Distribution Deal

Acuerdo Royal_Ideal Fruits


Strategy to increase sales to Spanish supermarkets


Seville-based soft fruit grower and marketer SAT Royal now holds exclusive Spanish distribution rights to Ideal Fruits blueberry production.

A berry specialist located in the Spanish province of Segovia, Ideal Fruits SL and Royal reached the agreement last month during the Fruit Attraction fair in Madrid.

In a statement, Royal said the partnership was based on the companies’ mutual commitment to increasing their supplies to Spanish supermarkets and to excellence in their products and customer service.

Ideal Fruits manager David Muñoz and Royal president José Gandía said consistent quality and good taste are the only ways to satisfy consumers – criteria met in Royal’s exclusive blueberry varieties Blue Aroma and Royal Blue and its other new varieties in development.




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US Expert Says Consumers Want Easy to Eat Fruit

José Chaparro with Mary Ann Lila and José Gandía Giner at the Fresh & Life symposium

What does today’s consumer want from fruit? University of Florida associate professor José Chaparro says it’s user friendliness.


Speaking on Tuesday in Madrid on the first day of the Fresh & Life symposium on berries – within the framework of the Fruit Attraction fair – the horticultural expert said this means fruit that:

  • is easy to peel and seedless

  • of an appropriate serving size

  • doesn’t leave you with sticky or dirty hands or with things you need to find a bin for, such as seeds.


Displaying USDA data showing a drop-off in per capita consumption of various kinds of larger fruit in the US since 1980, Chaparro said that in the case of oranges, the reasons behind this include that consumers find them too big to eat all at once and that they can tend to be bitter.


Meanwhile, there’s been an “incredible increase” in consumption of small, easy to eat fruit, he said. In the case of grapes, the availability of seedless varieties saw per capita consumption double in the US at the end of the 1980s. There has also been a considerable rise in demand for blueberries, strawberries and raspberries – all easy to eat fruit that either have small seeds or none at all, don’t require peeling and are available in small servings, he said.


Diversification crucial


Modern methods are such that these days there are many kinds of fruit that can be eaten year-round, “but the quality isn’t consistent and the result is consumers are not satisfied,” Chaparro said. Instead, people need to be able to trust that the fruit they know will be as they expect 365 days a year. “But what kinds of fruit can you say that about? Very few,” he said.


Among Chaparro’s recommendations is that the fruit sector seek diversity not just in the types of fruit available but in qualities that make them stand out, such as the colour of skin or flesh (helping consumer to distinguish between products), new flavours and improved nutritional value.


And increasingly important is choosing plants that can cope with climate change, namely those that adapt more readily to factors such as high temperatures and spring frosts, he said.


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Alternative crops increasing says Freshuelva


According to Freshuelva’s data, in 2014 there will be a significant shift in the figures for complementary alternative crops produced by Andalusian farmers, such as raspberries, blackberries and blueberries. Raspberries rose by 15% and something similar has happened in the case of the other two, whose main markets are Central Europe, the UK, Germany and even the United Arab Emirates. “This is because growers in Huelva have begun to make a commitment to them over the last 3 years. For this reason, we have been backing them with international promotional activities to get people to know them better in international fairs like Fruit Logistica in Berlin and Fruit Attraction in Madrid, as well as through campaigns aimed at the end consumer,” said the director of Freshuelva. He highlighted the important work being done by the producers in Huelva in terms of sustainability—specific actions that are compatible with the environment by using new techniques for treatment with insects for pollination and pest control, energy savings, waste reduction, automation of irrigation etc.